Table of Contents

  • Latvia is committed to providing all its citizens with a high-quality and inclusive education and has been making steady progress towards realising this goal. Since the start of the millennium Latvia has managed to significantly improve the performance of its education system. Nowadays children start their education at a young age and many of them continue into tertiary education. These are remarkable achievements considering the socio-economic challenges Latvia has faced during this period including the economic recession that struck the country hard during 2008-10, and the ongoing decline of the student population. Sustaining this progress will be central to realising Latvia’s ambitions in education and for society as a whole.

  • The performance of Latvian students on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has improved significantly since the start of the millennium. Twelve years on, Latvian students have neared the performance of many of their peers in OE CD countries and even scored slightly above the OE CD average in science. Further, while ongoing demographic decline has significantly decreased the absolute number of students, the share of the population in education has grown considerably since the mid-1990s. Children start their educational career at a young age, younger than many OE CD countries, and many continue into tertiary education. Sustaining this progress will be central to realising Latvia’s goal of providing all its citizens with a high-quality and inclusive education for personal development, human welfare and sustainable national growth. Latvia aims to achieve this goal by increasing the quality of the education environment and supporting the development of professional and social skills; this in turn requires increasing the efficiency of the system.

  • This chapter provides a brief description of Latvia’s education system and the context in which it operates. Since independence in 1991, Latvia has experienced continuing demographic decline. Income inequality is relatively high, and not all groups have benefited equally from its recent economic recovery. Latvia has high levels of access to and participation in school and student performance has been improving. Latvia faces a number of policy challenges. It has developed a highly decentralised education system which has proved both a strength and a weakness. Funding levels are low by OECD standards and fell further during the economic crisis. The education system needs to increase its efficiency and adjust to a declining population and an ageing teaching workforce. Finally, Latvia needs to improve the data it gathers about the education system and improve its ability to use that data in order to improve its education system for the future.

  • This chapter reviews early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Latvia. All children are entitled to an ECEC place from 1.5 years old, and participation is compulsory for children aged five and six. It is provided and funded largely by municipalities, but private provision has grown in recent years, particularly in larger cities. Latvia spends a relatively large share of its GDP on ECEC compared with OECD countries. Barriers exist however for developing a high-quality and motivated ECEC profession and municipalities vary in their capacity to fund, deliver and monitor provision. Latvia should continue to expand ECEC, particularly for younger children and those in rural areas; take a more strategic approach to improving the quality and status of the profession; strengthen data collection, monitoring and the use of research in policy making; and review the governance and funding arrangements for ECEC to support the achievement of national policy goals.

  • This chapter reviews primary and lower secondary education. Here spending is relatively low as a share of GDP, mainly due to the low teacher salaries. Student performance is below average by international standards, with rural schools performing particularly poorly. Latvia has also struggled to offer a truly inclusive education to students with special education needs or disadvantaged backgrounds. The ageing teaching workforce and falling student numbers offer an opportunity to make the teaching profession more respected and competitive. This requires higher salaries and better training and career-long development. Latvia should focus on improving the quality of rural schools, freeing up resources by consolidating smaller schools and promoting greater collaboration between them, and on improving teachers’ ability to identify and support children at risk of exclusion. Finally, Latvia needs a comprehensive system of assessment at all levels and needs to improve the effectiveness of municipalises at supporting their schools.

  • This chapter reviews Latvia’s upper secondary education system and also parts of its adult education system. Currently there is a stark divide between the general and vocational upper secondary education pathways and spending is low and responsibility for provision quite fragmented. Lifelong learning is underdeveloped in Latvia, with low participation and a lack of employer support for training. In 2009 a comprehensive reform of vocational education was started aimed at raising its quality and relevance to the labour market, make it more attractive to students and enhance resource efficiency. The Latvian government should continue improving the relevance and quality of vocational education, strengthening the capacity of stakeholders to contribute to the process and closely monitoring its progress; narrow the divide between general and vocational tracks both through organisational changes and curriculum reform; and increase take up of lifelong learning.

  • This chapter covers tertiary education and the key policy issues Latvia faces. Latvia’s tertiary education system expanded rapidly after independence, but the country is now faced with a system whose capacity is not aligned with demographic decline, fiscal reality and labour-market needs. The government funds a certain number of tuition-free study places, but the funding system does not serve wider national priorities. Staff salaries are low and are based on teaching loads and do not account for research. Quality assurance has so far not met international standards. Latvia should develop the new funding model recommended by the World Bank and continue to focus on improving the quality of tertiary education. This includes developing a robust quality assurance framework. Latvia should further continue its efforts to realign system capacity with demographic decline, fiscal reality and labour-market needs. Finally, it should strengthen leadership capacity at both national and institutional levels.

  • A specific OECD Review team was formed to undertake the analysis and the development of concrete policy recommendations. The team is composed of OECD analysts and high-level international experts.